The wind was a bit stronger than I would have liked first thing this morning but as I had a meeting with Natural England on site later in the day, I got the nets up anyway. Turned out to be fruitful as the breeze forced birds a lot lower than they had been in the recent good weather and a couple of 1st year Spotted Flycatchers in the net together was a bonus. These are generally restricted to the treetops and evade capture. By mid-morning the breeze had dropped and the cloud cover gone. With the nets now glaringly obvious in the sunshine, numbers tailed off. The arrival of a contractor to mow the paths around the reserve precipitated an early finish as the two nets in Willow Ride were blocking his access. A total of 48 new birds were trapped: 19 Blackcap, 1 Blue Tit, 11 Chiffchaff, 3 Reed Warbler, 9 Sedge Warbler, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Whitethroat, 1 Wren.
The drainage contractor has also been busy, levelling the spoil excavated last year from Horswell Ditch and scalloping the ditch banks in places. It looks pretty horrendous now, especially when compared to last months luxuriant vegetation, but the work had to wait until after the breeding season and at least we know that regrowth will not be a problem!
A bit of good news on the bird front as well. Whilst walking beside Ham Ditch, I heard the unmistakable calls of a juvenile Water Rail begging for food. I had speculated back in April that they might be breeding this year and this must presumably have been young from a second brood. Together with the Spotted Crake, also back in April, it shows what a difference a wetter reedbed makes. This was one of the topics discussed with the Natural England advisor as we are working together on proposals to construct sluices in the main drainage channel to restore and maintain the water levels.